For the second year running, the Electoral Commission (IEC) has launched a civic and democracy education campaign aimed at young citizens in tertiary institutions to grow youth participation in South Africa’s electoral democracy.
This year, it launched its national campaign at Rhodes University in Makhanda, the oldest university in the Eastern Cape, with over 8 000 students.
The objective of the campaign, with the hashtag #YouthVoteMatters and which will be rolled out to tertiary institutions countrywide, is to:
Educate youth citizens at tertiary institutions about their civic and democratic rights and responsibilities;
Engage students’ views about electoral democracy and impact of participation thereof through debate;
Empower the student electorate with information to participate meaningfully in democratic and electoral processes;
Promote online voter registration to students;
Conduct on-campus voter registration using the Voter Management Device at targeted campuses;
Promote a culture of ongoing engagement and exchange of ideas within institutions of higher learning.
The youth voter education campaign was launched at a ceremony on 7 March 2023, attended by Rhodes University students; Electoral Commission Vice-Chairperson, Ms Janet Love; Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sizwe Mabizela; Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology Deputy Director-General, Mr Sam Zungu; Rhodes University Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Ms Avuxeni Tyala, and Electoral Commission Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Mawethu Mosery, among others.
Vice-Chairperson Love explained that the Electoral Commission was intentionally launching its youth voter education campaign to students during Human Rights Month.
“As we celebrate Human Rights Month, the Electoral Commission encourages all South Africans, particularly our young citizens and first-time voters, to take the future into your hands. One of the most powerful and meaningful ways to do so is to vote.”
“Take the first step towards utilising the power of the vote: register to vote and make your views, your voice and your choice count. The opportunity to vote for a particular government comes once in five years. Voting establishes a basis for you to be aware of who you voted for so that you can also be aware of their performance as the months and years go by. You need this so that you can equip yourself with an understanding of how to make elected representatives keep to their promises, to build an accountable government.”
“Voting is a first step – and a necessary step – towards building the South Africa of your dreams. To the first-year students here today, who will most likely be voting for the first time in 2024, we are excited for you and urge you to take the necessary steps. A few clicks on your phone or computer and you’ll join the national voters roll,” said Vice-Chairperson Love.
South Africans aged 16 years and older, who have a South African identity document (ID), smart ID card, or valid temporary ID, are encouraged to use the Electoral Commission’s Voter Portal to register to vote for all future elections. Go to https://registertovote.elections.org.za(link is external) to register – it’s safe, quick and easy!
“This critical youth education campaign is designed to instil a culture of electoral democracy and active citizenry among students in public and private institutions of higher learning. It also aims to enhance voter registration and voter participation in both SRC elections and in national, provincial and local government elections,” said Mr Mawethu Mosery, the Electoral Commission’s Deputy Chief Electoral Officer for Outreach.
“It is our firm belief that by engaging students’ views about democracy and elections through voter education, while making it easier for them to go online and register to vote, we will encourage students to be active and responsible citizens of South Africa’s democracy,” said Mr Mosery.
Prof. Sizwe Mabizela said: “This partnership between the Electoral Commission and Rhodes University is so important because universities are spaces that shape our society and, thereby, our country’s future. By partnering with the IEC in this endeavour, we are coming together in building our nation and ensuring that young people who will be the future leaders in society register to vote and actively participate in building our democracy.”
Ms Tyala, on behalf of the Rhodes University student population, said: “…whatever you want your voice to say, show up and make yourself heard. If you don’t register to vote, you leave other people to make critical decisions regarding your future and our future. We all have a right to the choice, so make yours count.”
Electoral Commission Outreach staff were on hand to engage with students as to why they should participate and register for the upcoming general elections. Students were also assisted with registering on the online voter registration platform, as well as using the new Voter Management Device.
Source: Government of South Africa